President Obama on Aug. 1 signed an executive order instructing key federal agencies, including the Labor Department, to work together to reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities. Incidents such as the devastating explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, in April are tragic reminders that the handling and storage of chemicals present serious risks that must be addressed. The order directs federal agencies to initiate innovative approaches for collaborating with stakeholders to improve chemical facility safety and security through agency programs and private-sector initiatives, federal guidance, standards and regulation. Included in the order is a requirement for the department to review, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management standard and the EPA’s Risk Management Program. The review will determine if the RMP or PSM can and should be expanded to address additional regulated substances and types of hazards. In a conference call to stakeholders, Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, said his agency strongly supports the efforts of the president to improve and enhance chemical plant safety.
Leave a Reply